Paragon – A Band with an Iron Will
By: Kenneth Gallant
As a band, Paragon continues to be major players in the power metal scene. Their brand of speed metal has served them well for close to 20 years now and since the return of bassist Jan Bünning, there is a renewed sense of vigor. This should serve them well as they release Force of Destruction, their tenth album and first for new label Napalm Records.
Bünning took some time out of his busy schedule to chat about the recording of FOD, his return to the band and reinforce his old school metal beliefs. During our conversation he assured me that all the “Paraheads” who follow the band will definitely feel the force of destruction…
Blistering.com: Hi Jan, I hope everyone is going well. I’ve had the chance to listen to Force of Destruction and it’s a really solid release overall. So what’s on tap for the band going into 2013?
Jan Bünning: Great that you like the album almost all reviews were pretty good so far. We really hope to do a lot of shows, festivals an even a tour next year but nothing is fixed yet. There will also be video clip of “Iron Will” coming before the end of the year, and we have also already started to write new songs. We don’t want to have such a long break between two albums anymore so the plan is to enter the studio again later in 2013 and release the next record in 2014.
Blistering.com: Are you planning on playing any major festivals in Europe in the coming year?
Bünning: We are working on it, but nothing is fixed yet.
Blistering.com: For this new release you have had some personnel changes. How have Wolfgang Tewes and Jan Bertram been with the band? Is everyone getting along?
Bünning: Yes, we have a very good spirit at present. It really feels like a new beginning with two new members and signed to our new record company Napalm. In the past Martin was our main songwriter and the other guitar players were more or less only “followers,” but with Wolle and Jan we now have a creative guitar TEAM in our ranks and I am sure we can expect a lot of them for our next album.
Blistering.com: I almost forgot to mention your return too. You left the band in 2007 but came back in 2009, so what was the reason for your return?
Bünning: I left Paragon in 2007 because I was of the opinion the producers of Forgotten Prophecies were not the right team and I still think the sound of FP doesn’t meet our standards. So there was a lot of bad blood at first but of course, Paragon was also my “baby” and so I got in contact again with Martin very soon and in the summer 2008 we spoke about my return for the first time. At the end of 2009, everything was fixed with the other members and I officially rejoined. I don’t know, but I always was some kind of “soul” and quality control for Paragon and I guess the rest of the band members felt that was missing when I left. Everything is okay now and it’s really good to be back!
Blistering.com: You’ve had two previous vocalists; do you have any further communication with either Chris Barena or Kay Carstens?
Bünning: I had contact to Chris but that was a few years ago and I have no contact at present. I am not sure if he is still in Hamburg. As far as I know he is doing special effects now for movies like King Kong. I see Kay on a regular basis. He is also an old-school metalhead like me and we often meet with Didi of Seven Seas and have a few beers and listen to the newest old-school CDs or to old stuff.
Blistering.com: My two favorite songs on the album are “Gods of Thunder” and “Dynasty." Is there any track in particular that sticks out for you?
Bünning: Really hard to say because all songs are our “babies” and Force of Destruction is the first Paragon album on which I like every song! If I really have to choose a song it would be “Iron Will” and “Demon´s Lair,” but that could change every day.
Blistering.com: Can you talk a bit about the lyrics. What was the main inspiration behind the album title Force of Destruction?
Bünning: Our singer Buschi always has some kind of concept in his mind when he writes his lyrics. This time, the idea was what will happen if all technical devices like computers, cell phones, cars etc. don’t work anymore. His answer is of course, simple - they will bash their heads again with sticks and stones. I like his lyrics, they are like a good entertaining sci-fi or fantasy novel. On previous albums, we always had a title song and one of our first ideas was to call the album Iron Will because it was really a long hard way to write, record and release Force of Destruction, so we really needed a song like "Iron Will" to do it. We were not absolutely satisfied with the title so we played around with phrases from the songs. In "Iron Will" we found the lyric "Force of Destruction" and thought that sounds pretty cool and would also fit the energy of the album and Paragon.
Blistering.com: The band also had some distinguished guests on this release, so what was the thinking in bringing in Kai Hansen and Piet Sielck?
Bünning: Buschi and I are friends with Kai and one day we played tennis on the Wii. Just for fun I said when you lose now, you have to sing on our next album. He said yes and of, course he lost! The vocals of Piet were only pilot tracks to guide Kai because he recorded in his own studio. When Kai sent his tracks to us, Piet played around with both tracks and suddenly we had three different versions. We liked the version with Kai, Piet and Buschi most, so it became the album version. The bonus track is a version only with Kai and Buschi. There exists also a version with Piet & Buschi, but it’s not released yet.
Blistering.com: I know you covered Tankard’s “Two Faced” for the AFM tribute record back in 2007. My question is two pronged though: How was the experience and are you friends with the band?
Bünning: We recorded the songs in the same studio where we recorded Forgotten Prophecies, so the recording experience was not so nice but I think we made the best of it. Yes, we are friends with Tankard and we hope to do shows again some time. Who knows? Blistering.com: The band has also changed record labels moving from Massacre to Napalm. What was the reason for the switch?
Bünning: We couldn’t agree on the advance payment for the recordings with Massacre and were not 100% satisfied with the work they had done for Screenslaves. So after a while they let us go and we sent out the full album to about 8 - 10 bigger labels. I don’t remember exactly but four or five wanted to sign us but Napalm was our dream label because they are really growing at the moment, and they are very hungry and they not only have heavy metal bands in their roster so we are not “Classic Metal Band 666.”
Blistering.com: Finally, you are now 10 albums in, so how much longer do you see the band going forward?
Bünning: Hard to say. I guess as long as we and our fans have fun. At present we have a lot of ideas and I am sure we can achieve a lot more with our current lineup. Of course it would not make sense to play shows in wheelchairs, ha ha!
Blistering.com: Well, that’s all the questions I have for you, Jan.
Bünning: Thank you for interviewing us and “metal is the law“ to the Paraheads worldwide!
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